Friday, 17 November 2017

Cine Lo-cal

Episode I: The Room

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a little while and was spurred on to see it through to completion by uncovering an article about the tolkieneditor. That is an anonymous editor who has cut the horrendously overlong trilogy of The Hobbit films into one succinct 4-hour experience.

This project is not unlike that, taking what is necessarily a bloated source (The Room) and condensing it down into something more palatable. Where this differs is in that I’ve cut out all extraneous scenes in the film and left only the incidental footage of San Francisco.

The Room has largely been considered the worst film of all time, so much so there is a new comedy about the making of it (The Disaster Artist) coming out soon. When watching this film for the first time, I couldn’t believe quite how much filler material was left in the final cut, and how much of this excess landscape footage worked well.

I felt like this would be a good time to make something slightly humorous and abstract out of the film.

Cine Lo-cal Episode I: The Room from rouse_j on Vimeo.

What has actually happened, and to my surprise, is a somewhat coherent stitching together of typical San Francisco scenery that alludes to both the nature of tourist photography and traditional Hollywood filmmaking. The footage is quite peaceful to watch, and I think it stands alone rather well as in its singularity.

For added absurdity, I’ve repeated this 3-minute sequence until to fill approximately the length of the original feature film of 1 hour 40 minutes. To watch the entire thing would be considered a slog, and to some extent this references the source material too. What we have left of the film appears in exact order with stock city ambience as the audio.

In deciding on a title I came up with Cine Lo-cal, a little play on words for something that is both about location and also a stripped down (or low calorie) substitute. This also allows for some development of the project to include perhaps a few more films in the series. We’ll see how this goes.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017



I read a conversation between Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell and Man Booker Prize winner George Saunders where they discussed each other’s creative practice.

In the piece, they both bring some genuinely fascinating points about their thoughts on ‘art’ and being an ‘artist’. Much of their discussion mirrored my ideas on creativity, in that I’ve always considered art (in whatever form) as running something of a parallel to science. It is important to have scientific research that eventually leads to scientific breakthroughs. I see art as being the same. I’d argue that it’s important to have people making art which will eventually lead to cultural breakthroughs. The quote below outlines Isbell’s thoughts on the subject.

"I feel like art exists because it is needed. And I think a lot of it has to do with how you aim the work that you’re doing, and if you don’t aim it at all, if you’re just throwing chickens out the window, then I think in some ways you’re making art. Because if it’s more important to you to say something, even if that something is convoluted and hard to understand, than it is to attract something, or to sell something, then I think you might be making art."

Link to the article here. Worth reading for some further elaboration and discussion.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017



About a week ago I made a quick trip over to Dublin and visited a few exhibitions. In the intervening days I’ve managed to pick up some abhorrent stomach virus so for my own clarity I think I’ll discuss only two of the exhibits here:

IMMA Collection Freud Project
Irish Museum of Modern Art

I find it sometimes takes the sustained experience of multiple pieces to partially comprehend an artist’s work, and I certainly left this exhibition (of 50 pieces) with a newfound appreciation and something of a more profound understanding for Lucian Freud.

The content was quite mixed, with both paintings and etchings represented and various subject matter across the mediums.
Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985, Oil on Canvas

Included in the exhibit were one unfinished painting and an etching plate. As an artist, I feel preconditioned to place value and intrigue on medium and process, and seeing these objects, along with some telling descriptions regarding certain paint colours, is truly fascinating. Much has already been written about Freud’s long and labour intensive live sittings, but seeing behind the scenes is always inspiring to me. The collection spanned three floors of the outer building at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, one of my all time favourite galleries.

Eithne Jordan: Tableau
Hugh Lane Gallery

Before this exhibition, I was unaware of the work of Irish artist Eithne Jordan. Her work consisted of mostly small paintings of uninhabited interiors. I’ve had my paintings described as having ‘Irish colours’ quite a few times, and, looking at Jordan’s work I can say the same. The subject matter is often functional rooms. The image included here is one that caught my attention, some part due to the projector displaying a little error message to the bottom right and also due to my fondness for the desktop as a great revelator.

Conference Room II, 2017, 50 X 65cm, Oil On Linen

Although you lose the sense of ‘scale’ of the objects in the painting, something about removing people from the composition has always felt important to me. In an article in the latest Irish Arts journal, Jordan explains:

‘…if I introduced [a figure] then the painting became about the figure, not the space or the structures’

Personally, much of my work has evolved from painting gamescapes typically devoid of figures. This aspect of my own work has always been important. Like I’m capturing a moment before something wild and unknown going to happen as it typically does in such games. Perhaps I’ll write a little more on this in a future post as I have some thoughts evolving on the subject.

Elsewhere in the article, I read that work for another exhibition was explicitly completed for Butler Gallery in Kilkenny. This work focused on random findings while walking around a small town in rural Ireland. This resounded with me as I had dabbled with this in the past, and I am looking to develop a series of paintings about small town life to compliment a larger 3D game piece.

Watertower II, 2017, Oil On Linen, 50 X 65cm

Saturday, 21 October 2017


This is my favourite photograph. I found it on a Facebook group for old photos from my hometown, and I don't know who took it or even who the kids are. It looks like it's from the 1970s.

In the image we have seven kids, presumably friends, posing to have their picture taken while a British army helicopter is being directed to land in a nearby field. You get a real sense of the event, of how this would be a time for mum or dad to run and get the camera out. It makes you wonder what the actual circumstances were.

This kind of scene became a familiar sight when I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s. I recall how, as a kid, my friends would approach soldiers when they walked down our street, asking them to see their guns, spy down the aim or the scope. Apparently, they always had sweets or biscuits. Soldiers in our border village was a familiar sight, and when you didn't know otherwise, you just accepted it as the norm.

It's only on later reflection when conversing with an old friend, that I realised how absurd it all was.

"You know the soldiers only talked to us because they knew they wouldn't be as much of a target standing beside a kid."

There's naivety in this photo. Perhaps it was something to do with how my village has always been mixed religion, or because it's from a time before the British army was a familiar sight and the full horror of the troubles was yet to be manifest.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why this is my favourite photograph, but perhaps the most cogent reason is the strong juxtaposition of two themes:

The naivety of kids, of the community, of the government, the childish fascination with war, versus the brutal reality of what was to come with growing up, culturally, developmentally and as a country.

Monday, 16 October 2017



So I’ve finally succumbed to producing some work about emojis. As much as emojis are the lowest common denominator (in so far as internet culture), they do offer something that I’ve found tirelessly endearing and humorous.  

The influence of emojis is immediately visible across all generations and is indeed a product of the post-internet age. Much has already been written about the subject, and there are already a large number of artists using the symbols as inspiration. I read someone referring to them as modern day hieroglyphics, and although this is somewhat true, I think this is something of a narrow approach.

I’ve explored the idea of using everyday objects in still-life with both painting and collecting found images in my project ‘eBay Morandi’ from a good few years ago.

The following examples are of three radio devices that I selected for their similarity in shape and arrangement. I was interested in using contemporary objects with unusual form factors and also in how people photographed them for different purposes (in this instance, for sale on the popular auction website, eBay). I also produced some paintings for this project in a similar manner.

The inclusion of still-life artists Giorgio Morandi in the title of these projects is a little bit of highlighting and positioning the work in a historical context, and a little bit of my fascination of repetition in art. Morandi lived through two world wars and never once faltered from his signature approach. Yes–I acknowledge that there are some landscapes and other pieces, but Morandi was mostly known for his excellent still-life work. Something about how emojis can be repeated to drive home a point, or how some people use the same emojis so many times they become associated with them on a deeper level relates back to my understanding of Morandi’s clear focus on painting his pots, vessels and cups.

I have some hesitation to produce work based on emojis. Consider firstly how much of a cop out (culturally) it is and secondly how there are already artists producing work thematically inspired by them.  I think this could be an intriguing and unique take on the subject and, if it works, could be something of an easy win. In an interview with Axis (arts website) I mentioned that I’d like to revisit eBay Morandi at some stage. I’m not sure this is quite what I had in mind, but it does feel like it could be a spiritual successor. Stay posted for further developments.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017



I met someone I hadn’t seen in a long time last week who asked me about how I was doing with some of my sound art work. I recalled a project I started a little while ago where I was playing some feedback into Logic Pro X and using the Flex Pitch and Melodyne style auto-tune tools to digitally retrieve some musical notation from the noise. The example that I added to this blog was a version of the feedback-rich European Son by The Velvet Underground, as this experiment (somewhat fittingly) had just followed the death of Lou Reed in 2013.

I thought about revisiting this project as I’d never really fully explored what results this process could bring and in what way could the algorithm be manipulated. Also, it's a process that I’ve been able to do before, and it should be a relatively easy win to make some new work.

To start with, I recorded some banal commuting in an attempt to break the idea down into perhaps its purest form. I had considered using some more recognisable recordings, such as from popular culture/film/history but decided to keep it simple. There might be something more meaningful in the future, but I wanted to start again with something fairly basic and see if it can work.

The outcome has been somewhat different this time, with the software manipulation proceeding to one further stage whereby the interpreted notation is printed off as a score. I felt this might be an exciting lead to something physical, or perhaps as a piano recital, or maybe even a printed book of sheet music documenting my totally dull commutes over a period of weeks.

The Digital Scores project by Berlin-based Andreas Müller-Pohle springs to mind. Müller-Pohle digitally interpreted the oldest known photograph and then, in binary, printed off the results. This was back in 1995. There might be something about the choice of photograph here that might inform my future choice of subject matter regarding my audio sources.

I can’t help but feel that a lot of ‘Digital Art’ seems to involve the mere act of translating one thing to another: something of an analogue/digital conversion. I’ve written a word down in my sketchbook that I thought might describe this type of practice–Conversionism. I’m not trying to assume a new ‘ism’, just a trait that I have noticed for some time about art like this. Perhaps this speaks more about my hesitancy about this kind of work than the broader art world, but there probably should be something more about Digital Art than solely using technology to convert one thing into another thing.

Friday, 22 September 2017


I was walking from my house to university when I saw an elderly gentleman snatch something up from the ground with a look of sheer glee in his eyes. As I approached, I wondered what he had found that gave him such pleasure. On the ground were a few chestnuts and I immediately realised he must have spied and grabbed something of a prime example.

I always enjoy September. After completing my undergrad many many years ago, I moved back home to Ireland for a few months. Having spent the best part of my life (up to that point) in school, I found it highly unusual to have arrived at Autumn with no formal education to attend. There was a new sense of freedom with a fear of the unknown. The safety net of my yearly routine had been usurped by impending adulthood.

So yesterday I grabbed a particularly good chestnut from the ground, and after prying open it's spiky shell discovered it was, alas, just two small ones. I couldn't help but want to share in the elderly gent's excitement, bringing back memories of conker competitions at school, collecting the biggest chestnuts from the top of the trees, all the techniques and tricks (pickling in vinegar was supposed to make them tougher). The bittersweet sadness of finding out my prize chestnut was just two little ones felt like an echo of that time spent at home post-graduation. That and all of the emotions of September were defined in a single act. Somewhat appropriate to do this on the way to starting a Masters at university.